Sunday, February 05, 2012

The Hall Park is Great!


I live adjacent to the Hall Property, just on the other side of the wall from Raspy Growers. This past summer, I noticed the city was digging in seemingly random spots on the property and phoned City Hall to inquire about it. I was told that they were testing the soil for contamination. When I asked why they were doing this again, had the EIR expired, I was told it was simply routine and it was done at all park locations. Granted, this was the woman who answered the general line, so it seemed obvious she wasn't in the know. I assume, now, that they were at the time testing the level of contamination in the 'hot spots' to determine what level of clean up would be required (i.e. residential, recreational). Given the current situation with the county and the city at odds over the required clean up methods, it seems like this was a logical explanation.

Several weeks ago, I noticed that they were once again digging up the property, but this time large trenches and covering portions of it with tarps. Most of the workers did not appear to be wearing any safety gear, I didn't see any soil being watered down or taken away. Having heard through the rumor mill that SDGE was planning on 'conversion' (underground power lines) of the existing lines, I assumed this was what was going on. However, I'm pregnant, with a preschooler and a toddler at home who play outside on a near daily basis, so I was concerned about what kind of dust was being kicked up and inhaled by my family. After calling the city and SDGE, I finally spoke to both Mara and Stephanie (both listed on this mailing) who told me the following:

  • They had already dug up a 'hot spot', had the remaining soil tested and found that they had excavated and hauled away all contaminated soil and none remained in that particular spot (behind Vons)
  • They were planning on digging up the second 'hot spot', meaning an area contaminated above levels determined to be above the California Human Health Screening Levels, on the Raspy Growers property, that coming Thursday, January 19th and Stephanie promised to phone me a day in advance to let me know so I could ensure we minimized our time outside and kept windows closed. She did phone and leave a message.
  • The city had both County and Water Authority supervisors on hand to ensure proper handling of the toxic soil.

I was pleasantly surprised that the City was willing to share this information with me, although they had not told my neighbors (I informed them) and assumed (wrongly) that this would be the last of it.

I received the attached letter on Friday, February 3rd. Reading through the letter, if you had no prior knowledge of what had gone on at the property, it implies that they are beginning work this coming Monday, to be completed Tuesday, and that there is no reason to be concerned about the soil because they won't be grading in those areas, that they have not been working in those areas and if they should need to during this one week time frame, all proper procedures will be followed.

I was so enraged at this letter - it's as if they waited until they were sure they had exposed my entire neighborhood to the soil (which was caked all over my car, parked outside) and then sent a reassuring notice with a false sense of security to mislead the community into thinking they have our health at the forefront of their intentions. (When in fact, they have already taken it for granted). They have been working on the property for WEEKS without any notice to the surrounding homes affected.

I don't know if this is the kind of story any of you are interested in publishing, but I hope, if anything, that this information can help to alert the community around the park of how conscientious we all need to be about protecting ourselves against the environmental contamination we live next to and the City and utilities who have no concern for our well being.
ECP Neighbor

In related news: The city is posturing to do another one of these $20,000 surveys. That means, less money available for the seriously underfunded Hall park!


  1. Have you sent this information to the city council? will go to all five councilmember.

  2. What did the City Manager say when you called him; please don't try to blame this all on the Mayor again!

  3. I didn't speak to the council or the city manager, but the engineer at the city who is overseeing the project and mentioned in the mailing, Stephanie.

    She also phoned this morning to discuss any questions I might have, as they saw the blog postings and wanted to clear up any misunderstandings.

    To clarify, the City and SDGE have been working together for several weeks, digging in preparation for SDGE's underground conversion of the overhead power lines. During this time, they dug in two 'hot spots' (contaminated above human health levels), where they tested and hauled away the toxic soil.

    My issue with this notice is that it came AFTER the initial disruption of the hot spots. After speaking with Stephanie at the City (listed on the letter), their motivation in sending this notice is that SDGE is now constructing a temporary access road to the park property and they were concerned that the neighbors would see this construction and have questions.

    If you had no prior knowledge of these digs, this letter seems to imply that this is the only soil disruption that went on.

    Personally, I feel as though the neighborhood should have been notified IN ADVANCE of the digging so we could all choose to do whatever we felt necessary to protect our health on the days they were digging in the hot spots. The neighbors who did not know about this in advance (which is everyone, I am the only one who called and inquired) had no chance to make these decisions.

    It's a situation where a resident and the city are at odds over what level of education the neighborhood and community around the park property should be provided with.


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